Bernard Barbier presided over DGSE, France's answer to NSA, during the agency's period of fast growth, spending €500M and adding 800 new staffers; in a recent speech to a French engineering university Ecole Centrale Paris, Barbier spilled a ton of secrets, apparently without authorisation.
The first video upload of the talk was quickly yanked down, but new versions, with improved audio, are now online. The talk reveals that the NSA admitted to their French counterparts that US intelligence had hacked into France's seat of government, the Elysee; Barbier also took credit/blame for a string of cyber-offenses against France's allies, confirming for the first time that DGSE is not a "defensive" agency, but rather is involved in constant incursions against foreign powers.
In 2013, Le Monde published a paper unveiled by Edward Snowden revealing that Canadian secret services suspect their French counterparts of being behind a vast hacking operation launched in 2009. If the attack targets a half dozen Iranian institutions related the nuclear program of that country, it also targets Canada, Spain, Greece, Norway, Ivory Coast, Algeria and even some targets in France. About its authors, Canadians were still uncertain: "We believe, with a moderate degree of certainty, that it is an operation on computer networks supported by a State and implemented by a French intelligence agency." On the French side, absolute silence. Paris admits having acquired defensive capabilities, but denies any offensive activity, a taboo. Until Mr. Barbier's story.
"Canadians reverse-engineered a malware they had detected. They found the programmer, who had dubbed his malware "Babar" and signed "Titi". They concluded that he was French. And actually, he was a French (…). We crossed an enormous threshold between 1990 and 1995 when we bought a US Cray supercomputer. We found that with a very large computing power, we could break passwords.
We started hacking in 1992. I built the first state hacking teams, the first soldiers of the French cyber-army. The best have no university education. It's not a problem of knowledge, it's a brain problem. This is someone who, from years 15-16, started hacking. He'll find things and therefore flaws. Today, it's not 100 people we should recruit, it takes 200 to 300. "
Confessions of a master of French intelligence [Anonymous translation of Le Monde article/Pastebin]
Oui, La NSA hacked France in 2012